There's a new sheriff at 185 pounds. | Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC/UFC/Getty Images
The sport’s pound-for-pound king broke the oldest rule in the book, and Chris Weidman was there to levy the punishment.
Weidman knocked out Anderson Silva with a left hook and follow-up punches in the UFC 162 main event on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, capturing the middleweight championship by finishing a man who had looked all but invincible since he debuted inside the Octagon on a June night in 2006. Undone by his own hubris, Silva succumbed to the blows 79 seconds into round two, as he was beaten legitimately for the first time in nearly nine years.
A four-time collegiate wrestling All-American at Nassau Community College and Hofstra University, Weidman took down the Brazilian in the first round, peppered him with ground-and-pound and attempted a pair of daring leg locks. Once “The Spider” returned to an upright position, the antics began. His long arms dangling at his side, Silva taunted and mocked Weidman, openly daring the challenger to move into range. He picked up where he left off in round two, where his clowning finally bit him in the rear end. Weidman leaned in with a clean left hook that sent Silva crashing to the canvas in a dazed state. A heavy right hand came next, followed by a swarm of unanswered blows that left referee Herb Dean no choice but to intervene.
Silva entered the cage as the UFC’s all-time leader in percentage of significant strikes landed (67.8), knockdowns (17), consecutive wins (16), consecutive title defenses (10) and victories in championship bouts (11). He also ranked second in post-fight bonuses (11) and third in total wins (16). However, the loss to Weidman and his apparent disinterest in a rematch leaves “The Spider” with far more questions surrounding him than answers. Would the chance to face Georges St. Pierre in a pound-for-pound blockbuster present itself after all, if the Canadian were to surrender his welterweight crown to Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 in November?
Though a rematch with Silva looks to be off the table, per the former champion’s post-fight interview, there is no shortage of potential suitors for Weidman. Onetime light heavyweight titleholder Vitor Belfort stands out in the crowd. The 36-year-old Brazilian muscled his way back into contention at 185 pounds with back-to-back knockouts against Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold. A winner in eight of his past 10 bouts, “The Phenom” would serve as a stern first test to Weidman’s reign.
In the wake of UFC 162, here are six other matchups that ought to be made:
Frankie Edgar vs. Cub Swanson: Edgar stemmed the negative tide from a three-fight losing streak and recorded his first win at 145 pounds, as he bested Brazilian prospect Charles Oliveira by unanimous decision in the co-headline. The victory provided “The Answer” with steadier footing in the featherweight division following his five-round defeat to champion Jose Aldo in February. Swanson, meanwhile, ran his winning streak to five fights with a third-round technical knockout against Dennis Siver.
Mark Munoz vs. Michael Bisping: In prime form after an extended layoff, Munoz ravaged Tim Boetsch with takedowns and ground-and-pound in his return to the Octagon. The two-time NCAA All-American wrestler struck for five takedowns in the 15-minute encounter and out-landed “The Barbarian” by a staggering 56-6 count in terms of significant strikes over the final two rounds. Munoz has won five of his past six bouts, losing only to Weidman in that span. Bisping bounced back to beat Alan Belcher by technical decision at UFC 159 in April and remains a fixture in the top 10 at 185 pounds.
Tim Kennedy vs. Francis Carmont: Kennedy rarely dazzles with his in-cage performances, but no one can argue with the results. The rugged 33-year-old Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts export controlled 10-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Roger Gracie in clinches and on the ground, as he banked a unanimous decision and won for the fourth time in five fights. The physically imposing Carmont has rattled off 10 straight victories, five of them in the UFC, and surfaced as a person of interest in the middleweight division.
Tim Boetsch vs. Luke Rockhold: Consecutive defeats to Munoz and Costas Philippou have Boetsch back at the drawing board. The 32-year-old Matt Hume protégé had no answer for Munoz’s brutal top game and now risks becoming something of a forgotten man at 185 pounds. Rockhold entered the UFC with plenty of hype and pedigree in May, only to squander his momentum in a first-round knockout loss to Belfort. The setback put Rockhold on the wrong end of the highlight reel and halted the former Strikeforce champion’s nine-fight winning streak.
Dennis Siver vs. Jose Aldo-Chan Sung Jung loser: As has been the case at various points in his career, a noticeable deficit in the speed department cost Siver against the resurgent Cub Swanson. The Russian-born German started well against Swanson but ultimately wilted in the face of the Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts standout’s fast and skilled hands. Still one of the sport’s premier featherweights, Siver does not figure to fall far on the 145-pound totem pole. Aldo will defend his featherweight crown against Jung in the UFC 163 main event on Aug. 3.
Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier-Erik Koch loser: Oliveira performed admirably against a former lightweight champion, as he battled Edgar for three grueling rounds in the co-main event. Though he fell short against “The Answer,” the 23-year-old Brazilian appears to have quite a future at 145 pounds. Poirier and Koch, two more promising featherweights, will lock horns at UFC 164 on Aug. 31.